Thursday, November 30, 2023

Bob Bittner takes a call at WJIB-AM in 2004.

The man behind local easy-listening radio station WJIB-AM, Bob Bittner, gets a full-fledged feature from The Phoenix and credit for being “the last auteur of terrestrial radio.” The weekly, which lost its own radio station when WFNX-FM recently went online-only, has plenty of good things to say about Bittner and the station, which is run out of a small room in a storage facility near Fresh Pond Mall:

While the rest of what’s left of Boston radio is dominated by commercials, commercial interests, and corporate synergy, the entirety of WJIB’s output comes directly from the heart, brain, and record collection of just one man. The station — originally patterned after the long-abandoned “beautiful music” station WJIB-FM 96.9 — is a revenant of simpler, happier times, and has earned Bittner a die-hard following among old folks who lived through that era and younger people who wish they had.

The station has survived 20 years as of last Friday, including a 2007 funding crisis when a change in music licensing rules led to an $88,000 shortfall. Bittner collected the amount from listeners (all in the form of personal checks), within six weeks, the Boston Herald reported. Little has changed since, which is part the station’s charm, except externally: Fans have started a Facebook page to which Bittner sometimes contributes. In a sign of the kind of hardcore support the station draws with its rotation of standards of the 1930s through the 1980s culled from Bittner’s 5,400 albums, Samuel Potrykus of the Boston Counter Cultural Compass rock ’n’ roll newsletter sports a giant WJIB tattoo on his left arm.

Bittner, 63, is contemplating retirement and may sell the low-power station, the Phoenix’s Eugenia Williams reports.

The New York Times covered Friday’s Shred Day, when residents and businesses were invited to bring documents for shredding to Central Square. “Cambridge is one of the top high-tech communities in the country, but people here still accumulate their share of documents,” the Times’ Katharine Q. Seelye wrote in a piece posted Monday. “Such ‘shred-a-thons’ have become popular around the country as concerns have risen about identity theft. As those concerns have shifted from paper to the Internet, though, the shredding companies have responded by accepting hard drives, CDs and floppy disks.”

The fast-food chain that’s taking over the red line also continues to make headlines. With the Christian-owned Chick-fil-A chicken chain drawing attention for an anti-gay stance, Chipotle Mexican Grill is drawing questions again at the Good website about why — considering its “food with integrity” philosophy and locally sourced goods — it won’t sign the tomato-pickers’ Fair Food Agreement already signed by Burger King, McDonalds and Taco Bell. The agreement’s been poking at Chipotle since 2006, asking a penny more per pound of tomatoes picked and such things as business transparency and “respect for workers.”

Last month the Times reported on the chain’s “unadvertised special … a 50 percent discount given to officers in uniform” and apparently ruined it forever. Now, although no analysts are blaming either the Fair Food Agreement or police officer discount, Chipotle stock is deemed troubled after a poor earnings report July 19. CNBC has been asking “Can Chipotle Get Its Mojo Back?” and Daily Finance is pushing “3 Companies to Replace Chipotle.”